Social mobilizers in Ilesa West of Osun State, Nigeria, have been playing a crucial role in family planning demand generation activities ever since the state first engaged with The Challenge Initiative (TCI) in July 2022. Mrs. Adeniji Taiwo, a 53-year-old woman from Iwo in Osun State, is the state’s Health Promotion Officer at the Primary Health Care Board that leads social mobilization activities.
In March 2023, during routine supervisory visits across various LGAs in the state, Taiwo asked the social mobilizers to share the challenges they had faced in the field. One challenge frequently mentioned by mobilizers was the constant lack of consumables at health facilities across the state, leading to complaints from clients referred to those facilities who could not access services.
The mobilizers said their hard work was going to waste because successfully referred clients would likely not return to facilities lacking consumables.
While Taiwo and the Family Planning Coordinator, Mrs. Abatan Margaret, worked to find a solution, the mobilizers from Ilesa West came up with a temporary plan to mitigate these persistent shortages that needed more immediate action. They suggested the possibility of pooling their resources to acquire consumables in the interim to facilitate access to family planning services for their community members.
Inspired by the mobilizers’ dedication, Taiwo and Margaret welcomed this novel idea, which further resonated with mobilizers in other LGAs, who also offered to contribute part of their monthly stipends to support clients wanting to access services.
In June 2023, 80 mobilizers contributed funds from their own stipends to raise a total of N160,000 (about USD $200) to facilitate the purchase of consumables. With this fund, they purchased essential consumables like antiseptics, bandages, Xylocaine injections, surgical gloves, examination gloves, needles and syringes. These supplies were then distributed to 40 TCI-supported facilities in Osun State.
TCI has been encouraging community ownership of the family planning program in addition to promoting financial and technical support to community volunteers in Osun State. The social mobilizers’ willingness to contribute their own funds demonstrated their ownership of the program and dedication to ensuring sustainable family planning services for women and girls with unmet needs.
Taiwo was deeply moved by the mobilizers’ initiative, saying:
I am proud of my community mobilizers. To have them come up with an idea like this and see it through makes me so happy. It shows they truly care about their community and their state.”